The Greens welcome federal Labor’s support of their motion condemning the way billions of dollars of federal funds have been put into WestConnex without following proper processes or safeguards, but say Labor at NSW and federal levels now need to come out against the project.
Yesterday the Australian National Audit Office released a highly critical report into the Commonwealth funding of the WestConnex project.
NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said, “All the evidence about why WestConnex is a bad, wasteful project is on the table and the time for Labor to show their clear opposition to this project is now.
“Against departmental advice both Labor and Liberal-National governments threw public money and their support behind this project well before a business case existed or was approved by Infrastructure Australia. This is what happens when planning is done on the run for electoral gain.
“The Audit Report has shown how funds were front loaded into WestConnex even when agreed milestones weren’t reached and in some instances these milestones were back-dated and rewritten so the money could flow.
“It seems that all due process was scrapped to set up this project in a way that would entice private investors. Public money should be spent in the best interests of the public, not to boost the confidence of private financiers.
“How many red flags will it take for Labor to call an immediate halt to any further payments to WestConnex and to join with the Greens to insist on a full investigation of this whole debacle?” Senator Rhiannon said.
Full text of the motion:
That the Senate –
a) Notes that:
i) The Australian National Audit Office has undertaken an audit to assess whether appropriate steps were taken to protect the Australian Government’s interests and obtain value for money in respect to the $3.5 billion in funding committed to the WestConnex project;
ii) The report concludes that the May 2014 decision to the make the $500 million advance payment led to the project being approved without there being any documented analysis and advice to Ministers that the statutory criteria for giving such approvals had been met;
iii) Funds have been paid in advance of project needs and the payment method did not adequately protect the government’s financial interests; and
b) Condemns the government for advancing federal funds to projects including WestConnex, East-West Link and Perth Freight Link prior to proper business cases being developed or approved by Infrastructure Australia, and diverting funds from public transport projects which had business cases and Infrastructure Australia approval.
SENATOR LEE RHIANNON